Why everyone’s talking about Amandla Stenberg’s queer werewolf thriller My Animal

Screenshots of Amandla Stenberg in Bodies Bodies Bodies and Bobbi Salvör Menuez in my animal

Amandla Stenberg is back on the big screen as a teenager who falls in love with a she-wolf in the upcoming queer horror story My Animal.

My Animal, which received its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, is a sapphic werewolf tale and has been impressing critics with its “sensual” queer romance plot.

The indie film stars trans non-binary actor Bobbi Salvör Menuez as Heather, a troubled teenager who lives at home with her werewolf father, and alcoholic human mother. It doesn’t take long for viewers to find out that Heather, too, is a werewolf, something she appears to be deeply ashamed of.

Probably best known for her role in The Hunger Games, Stenberg co-stars as Jonny, a figure skater who is yet to fully understand or explore her sexuality. She’s in a toxic relationship with a boy, while her father, who also acts as her skating partner, is equally as controlling.

Amandla Stenberg looking at the camera while stood against a leafy green background
Amandla Stenberg says My Animal is a “queer teenage dreamscape”. (Getty/Taylor Hill)

Heather and Jonny meet at the skating rink and, as they get closer, it becomes clear that the tormented pair are infatuated with each other. Cue a steamy (if slightly muted) lesbian werewolf sex scene.

My Animal is the debut feature film for director Jacqueline Castel, while it’s also a feature first for writer Jae Matthews, best known as one half of electropop band Boy Harsher.

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It’s an exploration of outcast communities, hidden identities and forbidden romance wrapped up in werewolf folklore and the thrill of the horror genre. For queer audiences, it ticks all the boxes.

My Animal currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93 per cent based on 14 reviews, with critics labelling it a “stylish, fascinating coming-of-age story,” and commending its “powerful exploration of the themes of trust and self-acceptance”.

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter about why they decided to take on the film, Stenberg, who is gay and non-binary, said: “It felt like the kind of queer teenage dreamscape that I wish I’d grown up with. It was the queer world that I had fantasised and dreamt about.

“Within the canon of queer films, it occupied a space that I always hoped for.

“What was really exciting for me was these two very different archetypes of queer people who are in different stages of understanding their sexuality and their acceptance of it,” they added.

“And through the format of the werewolf metaphor, there’s a lot of rich territory to explore, how fraught with tension that relationship can be when you’re that age.”

My Animal has been picked up by Paramount and will be available to stream later this year.

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